To develop a modern appraisal of growth of Holstein dairy heifers, height at withers and heart girth (body weight) data were collected for 5723 heifers representing 163 commercial Holstein dairy herds from October 1983 through May 1985. Quadratic regression equations of height and weight on age were computed for each herd. Estimated weight and height of heifers at 24 mo from these equations were found to be correlated with herd variables such as herd average milk production and age at first calving. Means and standard deviations for height and weight were determined for each age (1 through 24 mo). Third order regressions on age were fitted to the means to describe height and weight. Estimated height (cm) and weight (kg) at 6, 12, 18, and 24 mo were 101.0, 167.2; 117.6, 299.1; 127.4, 420.6; and 132.7, 516.2. A subset of data containing heifers in 89 herds that had a herd average milk production of >7264 kg were also fitted to third order regression on age. Weight and height of dairy heifers are moderately larger in herds with >7264 kg average milk production. Based on the entire data set, commercial Holstein herds in Pennsylvania have heifers somewhat larger than those used to develop National Research Council recommendations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology